Directed by: #PaulRamshaw
Daffodil, directed by Paul Ramshaw and written by Gemma Wilks (who also stars) tells the story of a woman who, after suffering a terrible accident, finds her life to be drastically altered. Once so active, participating and competing in various sports she is now in a wheelchair and believes that any purpose to her life has gone. It is a tragic story but not one without some hope, as highlighted by the warm and bright external shots and scored with some beautiful classical piano.
It is also a story that we have seen before. However this not meant as a negative criticism; stories of the fragility of life are almost ten a penny and yet still make for compelling viewing, perhaps because it does us humans good to be regularly reminded that we can’t expect the good times to stay forever. Daffodil, however, offers more than a simple tale of redemption, or even the classic boom and bust structure from the likes of Goodfellas, The Wolf of Wall Street or Boogie Nights.
Daffodil’s strength lies in its writing, especially with its central metaphor. The protagonist describes herself as a daffodil, “because I stood tall and shone so bright”, but this also implies she’ll have a moment of beauty, before wilting, dying and being reborn. As the film’s story plays out we see that it’s structuring life as a cycle rather than episodic. The film emphasises this cyclical by repeatedly cutting back and forth between the lead’s present and her childhood. Perhaps not every member of the audience can relate to a flower but we all understand that our childhood was a time of infinite creativity and imagination. Our protagonist discovers that this side of her never left her, that she is always at once an adult and a child with the ability to return to talents (playing the piano) that she thought forgotten, and that while her previous life seemed so solid it now feels more like a house of cards. While this is still a tragic tale it is arguably more hopeful than others by changing the story from a rise and fall to a constant cycle of birth, death, and rebirth; of multiple chances and infinite potential.
However, perhaps some of this impact is lost in the way the film unfolds. The story is told entirely through voice over which is well performed by Wilks whose voice, while clearly adult, does still have a slight childlike quality adding to the timeless nature of the film, but this doesn’t leave much for the camera to do. The shots are simple and well composed but they are only in service to the voice-over. For example, when the narrator is first in the wheelchair the setting swaps from mainly exterior to interior, adding to the claustrophobia she is telling us about. But the camera doesn’t try to convey this feeling in a way that works of a similar nature like The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, or Notes on Blindness really do. The message is well delivered and the opening and closing shots of a daffodil give the film a solid cyclical structure but, other than the voice-over, there is little emotional connection to this story.
An admirable story that bucks the trend of similar features but would have benefitted from more crossovers between the script and the visuals.